Rubber base or Oil base ink?

Pros and Cons of both??

Hello everyone, First Post and new Member. I also do B&W Analog Photography (Film etc) and am thinking of ways to combine the two crafts.

I recently acquired (free) an Adana 8X5 in excellent condition. Pretty sure my first print projects will be using Photopolymer plates from Boxcar Press (personal business card and labels for items I sell at the local Farmers Markets). I also plan to be using traditional metal type in the future …

I see that there are (basically) two types of ink, Rubber Based and Oil Based. What are the Pro and Cons of both? Which is recommended for the total noob that I am? BTW … nice place you have here … Thanks in advance.

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Oh . . and FWIW my first job way back when I was a wee lad was as a gopher in the Layup Room of a large offset printer in Concord, NH … and they still did some limited printing using the metal type . . always fascinated me. When the Layup room was slow I was making slugs … Now I am retired and pursuing my youthful interests. :)

1. Rubber-based ink dries by absorption, Oil-based ink dries by oxidization. To “dry” by absorption means soaking into the paper, which means it takes an inordinately long time to really dry.

2. If you want to leave ink on your press overnight, use rubber-based ink. If you want the ink on your work to actually DRY, use oil-based ink.

Sorry to pester you with this, but it’s ‘rubber-base’ and ‘oil-base’ ink. And, by the way, the rubber-base ink contains oils as well… But I completely agree with Bill. I only use oil-base inks in my workshop and have banned rubber-base inks (also called ‘lazy printers ink’).

“Sorry to pester you with this, but it’s ‘rubber-base’ and ‘oil-base’ ink.”

Thanks, I am here to learn. I know a lot about a few things but Letterpress is not one of them ;)

Without rubber based ink Silly Putty never would have made it big years ago!!!!

image: silly putty.jpg

silly putty.jpg

Hi Doug, are you still in NH?

I personally like the easy workability of oil-based, though the top layer of the can can dry out and get crusty if not stored properly, and it can’t be left on the press overnight if you’re doing long runs. But if you’re planning on doing mixed media or printing on glossier papers, oil-based works better than rubber-based because the rubber-based never truly dries/ adheres to surfaces other than a soft absorbable paper.

Whilst I know nothing whatever about rubber based inks, I did have some involvement with oil based a while back. In fact depending on the exact recipe around either actual linseed oil as a vehicle or more often synthetic alternatives, the drying process on the sheet immediately as it leaves the forme or block is as follows, (1) the solvents that were keeping the ink relatively runny in the tin and on the rollers flash off, by evaporation, then (2) the image looses more solvents to the paper stock by absorption, and finally (3) oxidation starts to take place by literally grabbing oxygen from the air, to really harden off. Now this last is much slower and if you want to run the sheets through a mechanical folder for example it has to be really rock hard dry, and commercially back in the 50s ro 60s it was as well to wait a day or two, llikewise for lamination and the like. And for that one had to specify wax-free inks, which some cheapo stuff had as a more or less inert extender. . I once saw a pallet pile, allowed to get too high, so the air got pressed out, so oxidation was very slow, so the whole stack stuck together .. sigh!

Hello Liberty Press, the picture shows Silly Putty being applied to a newspaper. Is newspaper ink not different again from the rubber and oil base inks? I doubt very much if newspapers would buy the expensive Van Son inks for their presses. What I remember from working in newspaper printing plants, is that the inks they used seemed to be more ‘liquid’ and the presses were hardly or never cleaned at the end of the day.

Newspaper ink is non-heat-set, and so dries by absorption. Read all about the differences between heat-set, and non-heat-set inks here:

I print on very absorptive stocks, so I run rubber base ink. In the morning I add a few drops of 3-1 oil across the ink rollers on my windmill, which brings the ink back to life. I print for weeks till I see a quality problem, then I washup, and add fresh ink. I’m also adding fresh ink throughout the day which also helps.
I use oil base ink whenever I have a job where there may be a drying question. There is nothing worse than wondering if/when the ink will dry.
If you are wondering which ink is best, test it with a drawdown the day before-that will give you a good idea if it dries or not.

I’ve always used oil-based inks. I suppose that cleaning up in the sink has certain advantages, but new-fangled stuff like that frightens me a bit. I started with oil-based ink and will probably end that way. If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it!

Different inks for different jobs. Long time back, when I was running a Multi 1250w, we kept black rubber-base on it since it ran lots of short jobs (<500? impressions) on generic 20# bond paper- meeting minutes, directories, etc. We even used those burner-to-press paper plates. Worked fine for that. Often also used rubber-base for colors.

Doing finer-quality letterpress on harder stock, oil is much more likely, especially for colors since I’d have to wash the press anyway for the next one.

And since it “drys” by absorption, rubber-base ink and coated stock don’t get along.